September 30th 2010
Coq au Vin is a traditional, French dish, which supposedly goes back 2000 years or more. The French translates as, cockerel with wine, and generally one would cook this with an old bird, since the long, slow, cook in wine, tenderises the meat. Last week I got 2 free range Scottish chicken from the butcher, for £3 each. After roasting one, I decided that it was a little tough and therefore the second bird needed slow cooking in stock or wine.
Coq au Vin recipe:
a 4 lb or 5 lb chicken (this is ideal for an older tough bird, but any chicken would be fine)
4 or 5 slices of streaky bacon, chopped (pancetta or lardons in traditional recipes)
20 shallots (or 2 large onions if shallots aren’t available)
6 pieces of garlic
2 sticks of celery
10 small to medium mushrooms
some extra virgin olive oil
4 oz butter
a few slugs of brandy
a bottle of red wine (traditionally Burgundy)
2 tablespoons of red wine vineagar
a bouquet garni
sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons of plain flour
Joint your chicken so that you have about 8 pieces. Heat a large cast iron casserole and add some olive oil and butter. When it’s hot, lightly brown you chicken all over – you want to colour it as opposed to burn it. Once browned, remove the chicken temporally in order to cook the vegetables. In Keith Floyd’s recipe, he calls for flaming the chicken with the brandy (nice idea, especially good for impressing friends). I often brown the chicken in a large cast iron frying pan whilst cooking the vegetables in the large casserole. I reason, that since I deglaze the frying pan and add that to the casserole with the chicken, I’m not loosing any flavour and I can cook the vegetables at the same time.
So, fry your onions in the casserole and add the chopped bacon. When the bacon has coloured, add the finely chopped celery and carrot. Next add the garlic and finally the mushrooms. When the vegetables have all coloured, you add the browned chicken to the casserole, along with some salt and pepper plus the bouquet garni.
Sprinkle the flour over the chicken, pour on three quarters of the bottle of wine, the red wine vinegar and a couple of glugs of brandy. If like me you do the chicken in a separate pan, deglaze it (with a little wine and red wine vinegar) and add the liquid to the casserole. Bring your casserole up to the boil, put the lid on and place it into a preheated oven at 100º C.
I check the coq au vin after an hour to adjust the taste and check it’s looking right. The flour will have miraculously dissolved and you should have a deep red sauce.
Cook for another hour.
After 2 hours of cooking, remove the chicken temporarily (plus the bouquet garni permanently), add a knob of butter and heat the casserole on the hob to reduce and thicken the sauce. You can add a little more wine too, in order to bring back the flavour. Return the chicken to the sauce and serve with boiled or mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the coq au vin. If you have time, coq au vin should also come with garlic croutons. Traditionally the sauce would be thickened with chicken blood.
Several recipes I’ve seen, suggest cooking for an hour or so the day before and then leaving coq au vin overnight, so that the chicken really absorbs the flavour, before recooking the next day.